Letter to the Editor: Don’t ignore history

As we approach the end of Black History Month, and after reading about the deserved backlash against Whoopi Goldberg’s badly misinformed comment that the Holocaust was not about race, I was curious to read Tom Cardella’s commentary on racism in the National Football League (“The Flores Case Goes Beyond Football,” Feb. 9).

First of all, I do not necessarily agree with Cardella that the Whoopi story is any less important than what he claims is an abuse of the affirmative action plan or “Rooney Rule” in the NFL. Holocaust denial in any form can have serious consequences for any part of our society. No wonder she lost her job.

If history is taught properly, we have to acknowledge that antisemitism existed for 2,000 years all over Europe. By the time the Nazis came to power, Jews were already being persecuted and denied rights. What really caught on under Adolf Hitler was the concept of eugenics or scientific racism based on Darwin’s book about the origin of species through natural selection or evolution. In other words, each species either thrived or became extinct depending on how they changed and adapted to their environment. The Nazi position was that it was a good thing for a society to eliminate those with objectionable traits including serious birth defects.

What the Nazis did was to use that concept as a weapon against any so-called undesirable group, especially the Jewish people. Hitler and his followers ranked each group or race according to an order of superiority. Their own white group, the Aryans, were of course at the top of the list. Jews and others were ranked as inferior races and placed at the bottom. It was therefore considered necessary to purify society by eliminating them. They used methods like forced deportation, segregated communities and concentration camps as well as outright violence. At last they came up with the “final solution” otherwise known as the gas chamber.

What makes Whoopi’s ignorant statement so outrageous is that in time the Nazis would have come after people like her.

Cardella does make a solid case about hypocrisy in the NFL, which pretends to practice affirmative action, but finds ways to get around it. While giving credit to Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie for hiring a black, Ray Rhodes, with no experience as head coach, Cardella mentions others like Dolphins owner Steve Ross who fired head coach Brian Flores in order to hire a white guy. He makes a detailed argument that this is common practice in the whole league.

Maybe Cardella may want to call this “a more important story” than the one about Whoopi Goldberg’s faux pas, but he must also acknowledge that ignorance of history is one of the paths to repeating it. 

Gloria C. Endres